Event Tips How to Extract Maximum Value from Your Keynote Speaker

How to Extract Maximum Value from Your Keynote Speaker

As Managing Director of Speakers Corner and Speaking Office and President of The IASB, I am so lucky that my job and passion are one and the same. I have always aspired to ensure our clients secure the best speaker, presenter or host for their events or conferences.

The event date is set, the programme is planned, and it now remains to book a keynote speaker who will wow the audience in that final one-hour slot.  

As an event organiser, you expect rich content, inspirational messages and a sensational performance to be delivered in these 60 minutes; essentially, you want to extract maximum value from your keynote speaker booking.

The conventional requirements are often defined in terms of delivery on the day itself, such as keeping within the time allotted, meeting the client's brief, entertaining the audience with appropriate anecdotes and humour, and sharing insights drawn from their background and expertise.


Extracting maximum value at your event

It is, however, a common misconception that maximum impact can be gained simply by having your keynote speaker turn up just before the session and leave immediately afterwards. 

If a keynote speaker really understands and believes in the role, he or she should get involved in the event at the earliest opportunity (perhaps even days or weeks before), from the briefing call with the client to sussing out the venue and the mood of the delegates.

For example, Casper Berry, the former professional poker player, is perfectly willing to hold a poker session with delegates before his speech because it helps him to understand the type of people in his audience and to customise his content accordingly. 


Caspar Berry

For any accomplished speaker, actually being up on the stage is technically the easiest part. The real work lies in the build-up when they are putting a speech together and, in order to do this properly, it is essential that they have the right tools to deliver what the client expects. 

If an event organiser hopes to truly extract value from their booking, they should be less concerned with getting the ‘best price’ and more concerned with how a speaker’s content and style will contribute to the 'success' of the event, however that is defined. In his discussion on the role of the client in the speaker booking process, Speakers Corner MD Nick Gold argued that: “the value or ROI of a speaker is something that needs to be worked on as an industry.  After all, how many other sectors are there that the goals or returns on an investment are not explicitly clarified up front.”

During the briefing call beforehand, a client should share as much relevant information as possible. Crucially, they should understand what they are looking to achieve from the event and how they are measuring this. Once ‘success’ has been defined in this context, the client can engage with the keynote speaker to assist them in achieving these goals. Established keynote speaker, Melissa Sterry, argues in her recent blog post that “In my experience, the foremost factor that helps to ensure a keynote meets or exceeds client expectations is the delivery of a clear and concise brief”.


Click on image for Joey's cliff diving footage

Communicating this sooner rather than later will not only impact the rest of the event’s agenda, it could even help stage the marketing in the lead-up. Some keynote speakers are more than happy to provide content teasers in order to create an aura of expectancy and excitement for the delegates. A great example of this is athlete Joey Zuber sharing footage of his amazing cliff diving: such clips could be circulated on social media or email in order to garner anticipation.

On the day itself, a keynote speaker can go above and beyond in terms of providing an experience for an audience. Take social media pundit Christian Howes, who uses his data mining tools to ensure his presentation is relevant to the individual company or sector, and, if given the licence, will use real-time social media activity to focus his content on what is delivering the most traction and impact in the moment.

Prior to booking, it is also worth seeking advice from the speaker bureau you are using and asking whether your speaker would be willing to attend the networking sessions after the main event or stay for lunch with the senior board members.


David Coulthard

If an event organiser is looking to achieve that ‘wow factor’ but still retain depth of content, a good idea is to pair up an established keynote speaker with a more well-known personality to ensure that both these criteria are met. Indeed, one of the best examples of this (or at least one of my personal favourites) is the collaboration of Formula One's Mark Gallagher and David Coulthard.

To get keynote speaker ideas and support with the booking process, check out Speakers Corner’s selection of keynote speakers and embrace the opportunity to discuss these options with a team of experts. By sharing what they hope to achieve from the session, set within the full context of the whole event, such conversations will help to ensure that maximum value can be extracted from the right keynote speaker.

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia; George Caleb Bingham: Stump Speaking; listing picture of Nick Gold about to take to the stage. 

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